How Can the Church Minister to Those Dealing with Mental Health Issues?
Susette Magaña and Roy Kim | May 1, 2019
2 MIN READ | 3 MIN WATCH
Note from SOLA: This video was recorded during The SOLA Conference 2019. Below is a transcript of the video. It has been lightly edited for readability.
The beauty of where we are now when it comes to mental health is the church and the mental health community professionals have been talking and have been having conversations now for 20 or 30 years. We have Dobson and we have Townsend and Cloud. We have these people who have been writing about these subjects and integrating these biblical principles so we can work hand-in-hand.
The church can work hand-in-hand with therapists. There are plenty of therapists who are hungry to connect with local churches, and it can be a mutually beneficial relationship where we can help, advise, and talk about it from a mental health perspective, and there are conversations about what the Bible says about struggles like grief, lament, depression, and anxiety.
The church is not without access to resources, which was not the case decades ago, because there is access. Now it's just a matter of the church actually being active in getting those resources.
Within the church, we need to triage the different issues. There's crisis, there are relationship crises that people go through, and it's really common for the church to kind of know what to do but not really [know]. So there are ways that we can come in, educate, and help you build a system to know when someone may need outside help or when it's more of an issue of needing to educate the church community on healthy relationships.
This might be a curveball to a lot of folks in the church regarding how to help those struggling with mental health and that is [this]: A lot of times the congregation follows the lead of the pastor. If the pastor himself is uncomfortable talking about mental health, whether it's for strictly theological reasons or he just doesn't know anything about mental health, that's a problem.
If they themselves get well-versed and practiced in monitoring their own mental, relational, and emotional health, and they talk about that with the congregation — wow, talk about creating a safe space within the church to talk about mental health because now the pastor and the leadership has spearheaded that conversation.
And it totally demystifies it.
It totally does. And I feel like that needs to be one thing that leadership really needs to pray about.
I agree, and we model that in the therapist community. I tell clients very often that all therapists have therapists. It's required as part of our training, and it's something that we do ongoing. I really believe that talking to someone who holds my secrets and doesn't tell anybody what I say helps me to be the most vulnerable person. It helps me to work out the underlying feelings that I have that I feel like no one else can really understand. That's a foundational part of going to therapy.
Susette Magaña, M.A. is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a private practice in Long Beach, California. She has specialized training working with two groups: Christians from all denominational backgrounds and people who have experienced betrayal, including infidelity or pornography addiction, in a relationship. Her training included working in community mental health, where she focused working with children and teens in the foster care system whose placements were in danger in communities in South and East Los Angeles. She currently lives in Long Beach, CA with her husband, Will and her pug, Omar.
Roy Kim, M.Div is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex addiction therapist candidate. He has a private practice in Fullerton, CA, and hosts 2 podcasts: The Same Boat, and SA Speakeasy. He is married to Jenn and is the proud stepdaddy to Audrey.